Parenting strategies after separation

Strategies for Parenting after a Separation

Seperation is a difficult time and making parenting decisions can be extremely difficult to agree on. These strategies from Parent Help will give you some solid guidance

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Strategies for Parenting after a Separation

In the midst of the stress of ending a relationship, couples with children face the extra pressure of making decisions about how they will parent after separation. This can be a very difficult time for families.

We know from the calls we get on our parenting Helpline that many parents struggle to reach an agreement on what is the best ongoing care arrangement for their children; whether day-to-day care should be shared between both parents or, if one parent has the children full-time, when and how should the other parent have contact with the children.

Parenting strategies after separation

Consider what is best for the children

Ideally, parents are able to reach an agreement by putting aside their differences and focusing on what is best for the children. This may include considering things such as: how to ensure both parents continue to have a close relationship with the child, how to minimise the amount of changes and keep the child’s routine as much as possible, how to set-up a channel of communication that supports co-parenting after separation.

Parenting strategies after separation

Try these strategies if you’re struggling to reach an agreement

However, many times parents are unable to agree and end up feeling angry, defensive and resentful towards each other. At Parent Help, we often hear from callers who have been unable to reach an agreement with their ex-partner or are unhappy with the current arrangement in place. When this is the case, there are some general strategies that we recommend to parents who are separated.

Reframe your relationship

The best thing for children is to maintain a positive relationship with both parents. In order to do this, parents must reframe their own relationship to co-parents (think of it like becoming business partners), where the wellbeing of the child is at the centre.

This can be very hard to do in the midst of a painful separation; however, working together as a parenting unit will help minimise the stress and anxiety experienced by the child. It also teaches them useful skills in negotiation and communication, when they see you dealing respectfully and calmly with each other.

Parenting strategies after separation

Communication is key

In order to resolve disputes and agree on a co-parenting arrangement, effective communication is necessary. It’s important to find the right time (and place) to discuss your needs and concerns.

We also recommend writing down the important points you want to discuss in advance, this can help avoid getting side-tracked by minor disagreements or personal grudges.

Plan to focus the discussion solely on day-to-day care arrangements and allow room for both viewpoints to be expressed without leading to arguing.

Try this free course

If you haven’t already, take the Parenting Through Separation Course: This 4-hour free course is geared towards understanding the needs of your children and giving you tools and tips, including how to make a parenting plan. The course is run in small groups and you will not be placed in the same group as your ex-partner.

Parenting strategies after separation

Ask a mutual friend or mediator to assist

The process of separating can make one-on-one communication very difficult. If you are unable to agree, it may help to have a third-party attend the discussion, such as a friend, family member or professional mediator (such as Fairway Resolution). Mediation can be helpful for agreeing on the initial parenting plan and also for resolving new disagreements that may arise in the future.

Take the age of your children into consideration

It is important to consider whether children are old enough to be involved in conversations about their day-to-day care before involving them; the age of the child is also important when looking at how different care arrangements will affect them.

For example, in some cases it is recommended that very young children do better with one home base while continuing to have frequent contact with both parents to maintain attachment; whereas, school-age children and older may be more equipped to handle shared-care arrangements. See the parenting plan workbook for more information.

Parenting strategies after separation

Take care of yourself

The process of separation can be extremely emotionally challenging, and it may be necessary to take extra steps to ensure you are looking after yourself. Make sure to schedule in an activity each day that recharges your batteries, so you will be better able to make plans and decisions about the future.

Asking for help from friends or family, or seeking counselling support, are also important strategies for looking after your own well-being.

Give us a call - our advice is totally free

We are here to talk about any of your parenting concerns


If you have found this information useful and would like to talk with one of our trained telephone support workers, give our free cationwide Parent Helpline a call on 0800 568 856. We are here to talk about any of your parenting concerns. We receive calls about all age groups – from babies to adolescents – and no issue is too big or small.

Click below to see more details about our Helpline, or simply call now on 0800 568 856.

We have lots of advice and help on our website, too. We hope you can visit; we are here for you.

Parenting strategies after separation

Expert Profile: Parent Help

Helping build strong and resilient whānau living free from abuse and neglect


Parent Help is a Wellington-based charity that has been offering services to families since 1989.

They provide help with all parenting issues from the smallest to the most serious issue of child abuse.

They do this amazing work through their parenting Helpline (free call 0800 568 856), affordable parenting courses and counselling services.


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